Yesterday and today

Published 9:56 pm Tuesday, February 16, 2016

By Frank Roberts

Let’s get one thing straight about “Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience,” coming to the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts on Friday.

There are many “Beatles” shows making the rounds, featuring foursomes with copycat haircuts, clothes, etc. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.

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This show is not one of them. You will not get a quartet of soundalike/lookalike copycats. For one thing, these are not Liverpool lads. These cats are from Omaha, and this show is not to satisfy their ego — this show is for the audience. The key word is “interactive.”

Matthew McGuigan, the brains of the outfit, explains: “We perform as ourselves. We use their stories, and it’s more about the audience, the people who love The Beatles. Most of what we play are based on audience requests.”

The show begins before the “show” begins. Visitors fill out cards, noting their favorite songs and what makes them favorites. Questions? Write ’em down. Unlike most other such programs, you become the program director.

“Interactive” means that, wherever you’re sitting, you’re as much a part of the show as the guys on stage.

The most requested by their audiences is “Hey, Jude.” Second is the song about the yellow submarine.

Believe it or not, there are some folks who know zilch about The Beatles, but by the time the show is over, they usually become big fans. “If they weren’t fans, they are by the time we’re finished,” McGuigan said.

“We’re having a hell of a good time,” he added.

While the focus is on the Beatles, you get a good taste of other stars of the ’60s. There’s “Star Trek” music, and there are songs popularized by Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Buddy Holly and more. But the accent is on the famed foursome.

“I gravitate to Paul,” McGuigan said.

The program is dedicated to McGuigan’s late father, Bill, an Army officer who died a few years ago, and who his son described as a huge Beatles fan.

“All of this is because of Dad,” he said. Instead of watching “Sesame Street,” etc. pop was into pop, specifically the Brit quartet.

Bill McGuigan died of leukemia in 1996 at the age of 42. “He had such a great love for the music and taught his sons to love The Beatles as if they were their long-lost uncles.”

Two of his sons make up the core of the “Yesterday and Today” crew.

Matthew McGuigan is a graduate of the Pinellas County Center for the Arts in St. Petersburg, Fla. He portrayed Tony in “West Side Story” and Tommy in “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story,” and he was musical director for a presentation of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

His brother, Ryan followed in the footsteps of their dad. After attending Missouri Western State College and The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he joined the Army where, for five years, he served as percussionist-drummer. Also, he holds a bachelor’s degree in business with a minor in music performance from Wayland Baptist University in Texas.

If you love the Beatles, or if you don’t know the difference between them and The Caterpillars, your musical tastes will find flavor with their show. Look at their own experiences.

Friday’s show, sponsored by the Suffolk News-Herald, will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are available for $45 at the Suffolk Center box office or at